25 January, 2016
Itâ€™s 7:30 AM, and youâ€™re counting the minutes until the barista hands over your cortado.
Youâ€™re probably checking work email on your iPhone, tapping out responses to your boss, cursing autocorrect. Maybe youâ€™re ignoring the fact youâ€™re sick of your job or how badly you need that raise. And when the time comesâ€”despite the fact youâ€™re over your â€œfun moneyâ€ budget againâ€”youâ€™ll gladly fork over your $4.75 plus tip because that house-made hazelnut-macadamia milk is unreal.
We get it. Itâ€™s your morning ritual. But what if we told you that for the price of your caffeine-laced luxury, you could improve your chances of landing a raise or make a bold move toward a new career?
So sip on, reader, but while youâ€™re at it, consider putting a few bucks toward one of these:
1. Attend a Creative Lecture or Workshop
When most of us envision business world events, it ainâ€™t pretty. â€œMy Name Is __â€ stickers, fluorescent lights, droning speakers, and soggy boxed lunches.
But in recent years, creatives have overhauled the genre, organizing unique lectures and workshops that stand out from their stuffy forefathers.
A couple worth trying:
Creative Mornings is a simple concept: On a weekday morning, an innovator gets up in front of a coffee-guzzling, donut-munching crowd and explains how they got there. If youâ€™re not sure what career you want (or if it even exists), attend for some much needed inspiration.
If your interests skew toward the tech industry, try one of General Assemblyâ€™s free events or online workshops. Youâ€™ll learn practical techniques for a web savvy worldâ€”exactly the skills employers love seeing on a resume.
2. Read About People Who Do Things Differently
Itâ€™s easy to get comfortable with your routine when youâ€™re limited by a strict work schedule, but repetition makes for atrophy. When youâ€™re in cubicle lockdown, break up the monotony by taking a few minutes to scroll through some interview-centric blogs. Reading up on young innovators will remind you itâ€™s okay to think differently, and youâ€™ll probably come across ideas youâ€™ll want to implement in your own life. A couple not to miss: The Great Discontent and Freunde von Freunden.
3. Organize Like a Grown-up (Which, of Course, You Are)
Whether youâ€™re deep in the interview process or just trying to juggle copious work-life responsibilities, you need some way to organize it all. Getting your schedule in order guarantees you wonâ€™t miss meetings or deadlines, and also helps you track your after-hours plans so youâ€™ll never forget about drinks with former colleagues again. Weâ€™re all guilty of shirking responsibilities on occasion. Writing things down keeps you honest.
Try slipping a weekly planner in your bag and remember to use it. Or, if youâ€™re always online or derive strange pleasure from checking off to-dos (oh, we get you), consider trying TeuxDeux for a whopping $3 per month. The platform is pared down and easy to navigate, even for the most disorganized among us. And yes, thereâ€™s an app for that. Sync your lists between your phone and computer for days on the go.
Cost: $3 to $5
4. You Know What They Say About Portfolios
Well, lots actually. But if you work in a creative industry and donâ€™t have one? Stop reading this article now; youâ€™ve got other work to do.
A portfolio lets you curate how you present yourself by highlighting the projects you want potential clients or employers to see. Particularly proud of a piece you wrote? Put it into your portfolio. Worked on marketing for that new cool Adidasâ€™ womenâ€™s line? Add it.
You donâ€™t need to be a tech genius to make one, either. Cargo Collective provides free templates for creatives, while the creative world darling Squarespace offers beautiful, mobile-friendly designs starting at $8 per month. Set aside a Saturday to focus, and youâ€™ll have a website ready in mere hours.
Cost: $8 per month or less
5. Make a Coffee Date
So youâ€™ve got blogs to juggle, to-do lists to organize, and portfolios to build, but sometimes career hacking requires you step away from the computer. Most opportunities will come from people you already know (or youâ€™re about to meet).
Whatâ€™s the best way to make room in a harried schedule for face-to-face connections? Your old friend: espresso.
Consider cutting down your latte intake one day a week, then use that money to treat someone else. Take a walk with your boss to a local cafe and ask for some informal feedback. Or, call up a former colleague or new contact and suggest a coffee break. Even if youâ€™re both swamped with daytime responsibilities, almost anyone can meet beforeheading into the office. You can show them why that hazelnut-macadamia milk really isbetter than half-and-half, and they can teach you a few things, too.
Cost: $4.75 to $6.75â€”depending on whether your beloved baristaâ€™s working, because weknow youâ€™re giving him a $2 tip.
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